For centuries farmers have relied on word-of-mouth, business relationships that go back decades and tools and tactics that have been handed down through the generations. It’s a tired stereotype and whereas it does have some truth, the reality is that farming has always been evolving, innovating and changing.
The truth is that in many ways farming is at the cutting edge of innovation and often, farmers are pioneers, taking advantage of research, new techniques and mountains of data to constantly find efficiencies, improve yields and raise standards.
Can those marketing to farmers say the same? How many still rely on annual agricultural shows coupled with an advert printed in the local paper or their favourite farming publication? Or similar leave the distributor network to take care of their marketing for them?
How many have sought to innovate in their marketing? Are they using data to improve their sales techniques in farming? And, are they using research, new techniques and new channels to find the best way to reach farmers?
Just as farmers are using data and state-of-the-art technology to target areas of a field with exactly the right levels or fertiliser or pesticide, businesses marketing to farmers also need to be using data and modern communication channels to target relevant audiences with precision sales messages and content, helping them to win new business from farmers.
Why is marketing important for farmers?
UK farming is facing one of the biggest upheavals in decades. The industry has been rocked by Brexit, loss of payments and workers, and soaring costs. External factors such as the invasion of Ukraine is causing disruptions to global agricultural supply chains and the CO2 shortage in the pig industry is also having a catastrophic effect on the farming community.
Farmers are facing hard times but, as always, they will rise to the challenge and look to innovate and adapt.
For businesses looking to target farmers, this presents a fantastic opportunity. Farmers need new ideas, products, services and support. They are actively looking for solutions and now is the time for agribusinesses to step forward and show how they can help rural businesses.
It’s also worth noting that a new generation of farmers is now taking over family businesses or are entering the industry for the first time. This generation of farmers are digital natives. Technology is an integral part of their lives and that means marketers also have to be switched on to a new generation in farm marketing.
But what are the best ways to reach farmers and engage with them? What are the challenges and opportunities when it comes to marketing to this challenging sector?
How do you market to farmers?
Agribusinesses need a comprehensive toolkit of traditional marketing, PR, digital marketing, content marketing and social media in their arsenal when marketing to farmers today.
Farmers consume a wealth of media, research, insights and recommendations when it comes to buying decisions and they will draw on a variety of channels. Different generations of farmers will also rely on varying mixes of these channels, meaning you must consider how you segment your advertising and wider marketing activities.
So, how do you know which is the best way to market to farmers? The answer is using data for precision marketing. Much in the same way that farmers will use data to inform their decisions and deliver better crop outputs, improved inter and intra-field management and better environmental outcomes, so to must agribusiness marketeers use data to deliver targeted and precise marketing strategies that will harvest better results.
Technology has moved on at a break-neck pace in recent years, but the real revolution has been in data. Agribusinesses can easily access a wealth of data today and by carefully analysing and utilizing that data, you can develop a deeper understanding of your audience and make better decisions. This precision marketing approach using data will ensure that you too can see better yields.
Using tools like Google analytics to ensure everything is properly tracked and measured ensures that every marketing campaign is delivering the best possible results. By understanding the data, you can understand what is making your farmers buy, where they are coming from and, crucially, what the best channels for selling to farmers are. Whether that be paid media, earned media, social media, PR or traditional print titles.
Best way to reach farmers
It’s no secret that print is in decline across most sectors. However, newspapers, magazines and journals are still thriving in the farming sector, with a huge proportion of those in rural industries still using printed materials as one of their key sources of information.
As a result, you can’t ignore print when it comes to targeting farmers and a good PR strategy that ensures you are grabbing coverage for your latest developments or are being called on for expert comment is a key part of any marketing strategy.
However, as I’ve said before, farmers are consuming a smorgasbord of content across a range of online, offline and in-person channels today and agribusiness marketing and PR must look at having a strong presence across all of these channels.
Internet access is available across the majority of the UK now, meaning that farmers are online and consuming content. There are a wealth of statistics out there about how rural communities and industries have wholeheartedly adopted online channels. Remember, farmers are becoming increasingly savvy at using social media and online channels to sell directly to consumers.
If you’re looking at how to sell to farmers too, these are powerful channels that can reach farmers in a direct and personal manner.
Digital marketing to farmers
As we’ve said, farmers are switched on to the latest technology and digital marketing can be one of the most powerful channels for selling your products or services to farmers.
There are a number of key considerations but, using the tracking information and data from your own channels, you can then deploy a range of tactics. These include:
- Paid media – running adverts on search engines like Google, adverts in social media like Facebook or YouTube, banner adverts on websites, or remarketing where you only show online adverts to people who’ve interacted with you before.
- SEO and content marketing – which works to ensure maximum visibility in searches organically, makes you THE voice of authority on your subject online and also guarantees you are relevant by delivering regular and topical content to your channels.
- Email marketing – which aims to get people to share their email address or a sequence of emails that work to convert a contact into a customer.
- PR or earned media – Creating quality content that media outlets will feature in print or online, or creating new relationships through events etc.
While not a digital marketing channel, another key “offline” tactic is to always consider the print media and, in particular, print advertising. That is adverts that are featured in printed farming titles, sometimes including “advertorial” or content written as an article that supports your advert and/or company offer.
Do farmers use social media?
Put simply, yes.
The latest stats show around 80% of farmers are now using social media regularly with the top platforms (in order of popularity) being Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
The key thing to consider when targeting farmers using social media is what they are using each social media channel for and, understanding that, how best you can promote your goods or servicves on each of these channels. A one size fits all approach to social media will certainly fail.
For example, the majority of farmers will use Facebook for social contacts and for entertainment.
Twitter is more likely used to keep up with the latest farming news and updates. YouTube is frequently accessed for “How To” videos that show how to use the latest techniques, tools or machinery.
Consider what farmers will be using each channel for and make sure you tailor your message to suit to have the maximum impact.
That being said, remember that farmers may also be using channels like Facebook and Instagram to target consumers directly and these may provide a way for you to start a conversation and begin building a relationship.
Marketing strategies for the agricultural sector
Today, a successful marketing strategy for agribusinesses should take the “digital first” approach.
With the majority of content being consumed through digital channels, it’s critical to consider each facet of an agribusiness marketing strategy through a digital lens in the first instance. Make sure you have the tracking, analytics, insights content, images, landing pages, etc that you need to make a campaign coordinated and successful.
When planning a marketing strategy there are a number of things to take into account:
- Make sure you are clear on your business objectives. Be clear about what the business is ultimately trying to achieve and how selling to farmers fits into that strategy.
- Be clear on the marketing aims and how your plan to market to farmers will support your main business objective. Also work out what’s currently missing.
- Plan a budget. Understand exactly how much you are willing to invest in marketing, have clear expectations in place and the tools to measure the impact.
- Understand what resources you have. Do you have the expertise and people needed to deliver the marketing plan and then the people needed to respond to any leads? Do you need to call in external expertise from a specialist agribusiness marketing agency?
- Research the competition. What are they doing? Is their strategy effective and is their business benefitting from it?
- Speak to your customers. Understand the questions they are asking and the problems they face. Work out how you can best show you have the answers and the solution.
- Where are the opportunities? What are the best channels to use and what share of voice can you expect from the campaign?
- Relationships and stories. Make sure you know the titles and journalists you want to feature your news and make sure you have a story to tell.
- Executing the plan. Make sure you have a clear plan for delivering your strategy and measure results so you can adapt your campaign, messages and strategy if necessary.
How to sell products to farmers
In conclusion, it will never be easy to sell to farmers. They are shrewd, informed and make careful, calculated decisions. However, 2022 offers a great opportunity to market to farmers and they now, more than ever, need collaboration, support and solutions to make it through another tough period in farming.
By understanding how farms and farmers are using technology, social media, online channels and the traditional printed titles and then delivering research-driven digital marketing and PR strategies, agribusinesses can see more success from their campaigns.
By adopting the farmers appetite for data and innovation, any agribusiness can create a successful marketing strategy that will help them sell products and services to famers.
If you need any strategic or channel specific support, we’re here to help so get in touch now.